Saturday, 31 January 2015

Tourist for a Day: Budapest

I'll let you in a secret.  This is how I plan our trip:

1.  Google interesting place to visit in ____ (insert city)

2.  Write down the place.   I judge by the photo.  If it's good enough in the photo then it's good enough to be visited at least for me.

a.  Write metro or street name.
b.  Opening times and fees.

3.  Use google earth to locate the places.  Then divide which tourist spots are near each other.


In my opinion, it will take 2 days to explore the tourist spots in Budapest providing that you travel off-peak.  Walking around took us 5 hours from the Jewish Ghetto where we stayed.  Armed with map, Luke and I walked around the city. We were lucky enough that the Hotel Continental Zara is 30 minutes away from major spots.  

Walking around Budapest, I was in awe with the amazing architecture.  Just like Prague, Art Nouveau and Baroque is prevalent.  Yeah, I like to throw that from time to time so people will find me interesting.  Hahaha.  The city is not congested and it is feels very spacious.  So without further ado, let the day begin:

 The Budapest Parliament
 Shoes on the Danube Bank.
This is in memory of the people who are shot in the Danube river by Arrow Cross Militiamen.
 You can see the Buda Castle from the Chain Bridge.
 Okay, we walked in the grounds of the Buda Castle, which is massive by the way but we didn't go in.  Just can't be bothered paying to be honest and we've been to castles before as well living in England.
 Matthias Church
 You have to pay to get in to the Matthias Church.
I think it's worth seeing.  The fee, just like the Sagrada Familia in Spain goes to finishing the structure and in this case, for restoration.  The whole church is hand painted with Gothic details.  Uhuh, I threw that again.  :P
Fisherman's Bastion

To do this tour, would be cheap.  You only have to be ready and able to walk up the side of the mountain.  We only pay for the entrance of the Matthias Church. We usually scrimp on everything else apart from the food which I will make a separate blog post of.  :)

Friday, 30 January 2015

Hungary's Guide to My Tummy

I am not a foodie, I simply enjoy food.  I may regret the calorie content of my meal but that's what I have to pay for experiencing the "authentic".  Luckily, I don't have any dietary requirements.  I have little known allergic reaction usually from beer back home and recently kiwi but it is not alarming that I have to be concerned about.  

Like I said, my husband is in charge of food.  On this trip, I only have one thing in mind, Mangalica/Mangalitsa.  If it's anything exotic, count me in.  I have tasted balut, century egg and bugs from Thailand.  So eating Mangalica is not something that I would shy away from.

I am gonna write an account now of every restaurant we have been in.  Don't worry, it wasn't much.  We usually just splurge on dinner as most of the hotels we choose offers free buffet breakfast and we tend to leave late.  It is holiday after all.  :)

1.  PIG 37  

Nothing fancy about this place.  It is a straight up cheap burger joint.  You don't have to dress up or impress anyone.  :P  But it would have been one of the best burgers we had.  Every burger is served fresh and by the grams.  No ventilation on the place though so if you are thinking of re-using your jeans or jumper, you can't.  It will definitely smell of oil.  

TIP:  Try tasting their local beers.  

2.  SZIMPLA  

Our hotel is the perfect location if you enjoy the night life.  We have bars everywhere street we go in the 5 minutes walking radius.  Szimpla is a bar not for the faint hearted.  What I mean is, it looks rough from the outside and the inside.  I loved it.  I wouldn't change a thing about it and I wish we have something like this in Reading but I don't barhop anymore. :P  It has installation everywhere and the best thing is, the art installation is interactive.  It was visually stimulating.

PRO:  If you like socialising, then this is for you.  The chairs are arranged for people to share.
CON:  I won't deny it, the toilets are mingy.  

3.  PIKNIK PAVILION

This is one of the restaurants that we didn't plan on going.  It just happened that I was a little bit hungry from all the walking and I needed to use the loo.  It was a deadly combination for me on a holiday as it is a guaranteed bitch mode.  I have to say, this served one of the best hot chocolates that I had.  Thinking about it, I think they serve real good hot chocolates in Budapest no matter what the price is.  Piknik Pavilion is a very cozy restaurant with little shabby chic details.  It is situated just across the Matthias Church. You can sample different meat and sausages and the price is not so expensive. 

4.  PESTI DISZNO BISZTRO

I have written down a place which served Mangalica but what I didn't realise was that, the restaurant has been permanently closed.  So much for my research.  We chanced upon this restaurant when we explored an affluent looking area near Szent Istvan.  To describe it, it was like a small version of Regent Street in London.  Because of our curiosity, we passed by the Opera and the place similar to walk of fame in the US.  Too bad though, we didn't know any Hungarian Stars but never mind.  I think this is why it's good to explore sometimes, provided that the place looks and feels safe and deviate from the plan as long as you have a map of course.  

How do I describe Mangalica?  I can't tell the difference to be honest.  It just looked like the meat is whiter than normal pork.  It feels softer as well.  But it did satisfy my curiosity.  This was the night that I had Palinka as well.  It didn't turn out well.  I put my husband's video on my instagram but I saved mine here.  
video


5.  NEW YORK CAFE

I must have read somewhere that Budapest have impressive looking cafes otherwise, it wouldn't be on the list.  It must have been my love of architecture that led us to this place.  One word comes to mind when I saw the interior, grand.  There is something romantic about the mixture of high ceilings, murals and art nouveau details.  I know, this is me going on about it  again but that's what attracted me to the place.  The food is nothing amazing.  I mean for what we paid for, I could have expected more but I think you pay for the experience.  

CON:  A tea for two will cost you more than 30 GBP.  It is a lot in comparison to most places in Budapest.  But like I said, you pay for the experience.

6.  KOLEVES

Luke has always been fascinated with Jewish food and since we stayed in the Jewish area, it is only right to taste their cuisine.  My experience with this restaurant was amazing.  The staffs are nice and friendly and the food is good value for money.  I ordered Jewish Matza Soup and rabbit as we don't usually eat rabbit in the UK and Luke had goose leg.  For the first time since forever, I didn't have food envy and was very pleased with my selection.  

TIP:  Make sure you come early or take a reservation as we passed by this place on a weekend and it was packed.
Come hungry as well as they have massive servings.

There you go.  My restaurant picks from our trip.  Imagine the calories and this doesn't include the daily buffet yet.  :P

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